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Ten Poignant Mrs. Fleming Quotations to Commemorate Founder’s Day


A very happy birthday to our founder, M. Crist Fleming, who would have turned 112 today! Born in Boston on September 10, 1910, Mrs. Fleming was the only child of two school founders and directors, Haldy Miller Crist and Frances Leavitt Crist. Devoted to education from an early age, she would go on to found and direct American international schools and educational summer programs in Switzerland, England, Greece, Cyprus, and France.

Mrs. Fleming was survived by her three children, including current TASIS Board of Directors Chairman Lynn Fleming Aeschliman. Her legacy is best summed up by the keen words of her son-in-law, TASIS Foundation Board member Dr. Michael D. Aeschliman, who concluded her obituary by noting, “But her larger family numbers in the thousands of people who were touched and inspired by her vision, inexhaustible energy, grace, courtesy, and generosity." 

Mrs. Fleming was remarkably eloquent, and a treasury of her quotations are chronicled in The Wit and Wisdom of Mary Crist Fleming. In celebration of her birthday and in recognition of her profound effect on generations of students and educators, we commemorate Founder’s Day 2022 by offering a look at some of our favorite Mrs. Fleming quotations.

On Caring:

You ask, what can I, one small person, do against the enormity of it all?

And I answer you, start in a small but daily way—becoming the kind of human being who cares first about immediate things and immediate people—your roommate, your friends, your family, some sick person you know who is suffering, some old person who is lonely, a gesture, a note, a word, a call, the smallest thoughtful action that means so much to those needing it—the reaching out of a hand—in doing so, as you grow, you become that kind of person… You are no longer one small person, you have become a force, a force to be counted, a force that can change current events, can change history!

Speech to students, 1979

On Education and Wisdom:

Our crazy world at this moment in time seems to be dividing itself more and more into not only the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' but also into those who build and those who tear down, those who create and those who destroy, and the only thing that stands in between those two extremes is education.

Speech to faculty and staff, 1998

On Beauty and The Arts:

For me, a love of literature, the arts, and the performing arts is the heart and soul of education, for it grows throughout our entire lifetime, keeping alive the excitement of learning, creating constant enrichment in our leisure hours and throughout our long golden years.

Speech, 1993

On Dreams:

Make a difference in the world. These are big hopes and dreams but you have to hope big and dream big to have bigger dreams come true.

Speech to students and parents, 1998

On Internationalism:

Youth is the best time to form the impressions that can advance international understanding. Together… with mutual understanding gained through language and personal meetings… a new generation can help to keep our unified culture in peace.

Message in TASIS Catalog, 1960s

On Setbacks:

I think even failures are important, so I have never felt badly when people say I should never have gone to Cyprus or Greece or France, or I should never have done so and so; perhaps I shouldn’t have, but I think it had some validity and it may show the way for other expansions or other enterprises. I think in general the things that you have not done are the things that you regret. It is never the things I have done, it is always what I have not done that I have regretted. And there haven’t been many of those!

Interview with John Annis, 1990

On Challenges:

You have come here to school, your parents have entrusted you to us in the hope that we would challenge you to stretch yourself—to make the most of your abilities that you’re not aware that you have.

Speech to students, 1979

On Leadership:

If I stand on my mountaintop and look down at the last ninety years–or if I look up–outward and up at the next 90 years, what do I see? This is what I hope to see: TASIS bursting at the seams with very special young people, from all over the world, preparing themselves for leadership roles in their own countries, where they will strive to eliminate poverty, hunger, disease, exploitation, injustice, and war!

Yearbook message, 2000

On Making a Difference:

Even small steps, but taken daily, start producing results—a kind word, a helping hand, an effort to speak another language, an offer to help someone small, weak, hurt, or sad.

Yearbook message, 2006

On Values:

I beseech you to start now as you leave the beauty, the protection, the sense of security of TASIS to hold onto the timeless values that your parents and we have tried to instill in you—a love of beauty, a search for knowledge and for the excitement of learning, truth, honesty, a belief in work, a serious concern for our planet and what we are doing to it, and mostly a compassion for all human beings, especially those so much less fortunate than we. A dedication to these values will make life meaningful for you, for there is no greater happiness than being of service to others.

Speech to parents and students, 1995

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